Advantages High Street shopping undercover
Disadvantages Christmas time can be a nightmare
I thought i'd write a little review of the Merry Hill shopping centre, as it is a place which i visit almost every day, and i class it as my corner shop. I literally live within 5 minutes walk of the centre, and there's ALWAYS something that either myself or my girlfriend need to buy, so Merry Hill is always the place we go to get it.Merry Hill shopping centre is located in Brierley Hill, just outside Dudley, in the West Midlands. It used to be the location of an old Steel works, but was transformed in the mid 80's, to make way for what was then a small retail park. It has gone through several transformations and extensions in the years since then, to become what it is now, and it continues to evolve, growing in size every year. The centre currently comprises of a very large indoor shopping area, containing most major high street names, a large outdoor retail park, a 10 screen cinema, several food outlets, exclusive apartments and houses, and the adjacent waterfront complex which is the home to several bars and nightclubs, and the offices which is where i am working and writing this!
Transport to Merry Hill can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes. The road system around the centre is continually being 'improved' due to its ever growing popularity, although the never-ending road works seem to cause constant traffic problems, especially at Christmas, where travelling in and out of Merry Hill can take hours. The public transport service isn't great, as the only way to get there is by bus, many of which stop running at around 6, and considering the shops stay open until 9, and 10 at Christmas, the buses should really stay running until that time. There are no train services to the centre, the nearest station is Cradley Heath, about 3 miles away. There is a planned Metro extension which is due for completion in 2008, which will link Merry Hill to neighbouring Brierley Hill, and also Wolverhampton and Dudley.The undercover shopping area is quite nice to wander around. It is not overly large, so you won't find yourself tired out by the end of your trip, and you'll be able to find everywhere you're looking for. But on the other hand its not too small so that you run out of places to shop. The major high street names include Debenhams, Marks and Spencers, Next, Asda, Sainsburys, Argos, H+M, Virgin Megastore, HMV, and many many more. Most of the year, the shops are fairly easy and pleasant to shop in, and don't attract major crowds like the fairly nearby Bullring centre in Birmingham. Only in November to early January is it a bit of a nightmare to wander round, as the Christmas shoppers take over for these months. Still, it is to be expected. The food outlets in the centre include 4 (yes 4!) McDonalds restaurants, burger king, KFC, several cafe's, and supermarket restaurants. Outside there is a Frankie and Benny's restaurant, and also there is a Wetherspoons under construction. There is an indoor market inside the centre too, which contains your typical kinds of market stall, aswell as a tattooist and body piercer! Ouch!
The UCI 10 screen cinema seems a little dated now, compared to more modern showcase or warner village cinemas. Still it does its job, and shows all the latest releases, despite needing a lick of paint and more comfortable seating! Parking in the centre is ok for the most of the year, but once again, at Christmas, becomes hell on earth, with even mild mannered old ladies prepared to kill for a parking space! There is a newly opened multi storey car park now, so we'll see this festive season if this eases things!I worked at the Virgin Megastore in the centre for 5 years, and during this time, hated the centre! But since i've left, i do enjoy the odd stroll round, it does make a difference if you work there! You do get quite a few hoards of annoying kids and teenagers hanging round quite often, but you get this everywhere. the Merry Hill security don't seem that efficient, and always seem to kind of ignore these gangs of kids, like they're scared of them! Still, they don't cause major problems. The shopping centre is now a no smoking centre, which is better. There are still smoking areas in selected restaurants if you like a puff (i mean a puff of smoke......). Disabled access in and out of stores seems ok, and Merry Hill provide wheelchairs and motorised scooters if needed.
The nearby adjacent waterfront complex (so called because it is on the Brierley Hill canal, such a lovely place....hmmm.....), contains several popular bars and restaurants. Friday and Saturday nights are rammed full of drunken revellers, which isn't really my cup of tea anymore, but is still ok if you like that kind of thing.The opening hours for the bulk of Merry Hil are as follows -
At Christmas it stays open until 10.00 every weeknight.So there we go, my local reviewed for you. Its a nice place really. Not quite as sprawling and huge as the Metro centre in Newcastle, or Meadowhall in Sheffield, but it does the job! If you're ever in the area, drop in. But NOT at Christmas, you'll never get out!
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